Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/08/2020

Bālapaṇḍita Sutta MN 129

Having done bad things by way of body, speech, and mind, when their body breaks up, after death, they’re reborn in a place of loss, a bad place, the underworld, hell.

And if there’s anything of which it may be rightly said that it is utterly unlikable, undesirable, and disagreeable, it is of hell that this should be said. So much so that it’s not easy to give a simile for how painful hell is.”

When he said this, one of the mendicants asked the Buddha, “But sir, is it possible to give a simile?”

“It’s possible,” said the Buddha.

“Suppose they arrest a bandit, a criminal and present him to the king, saying, ‘Your Majesty, this is a bandit, a criminal. Punish him as you will.’ The king would say, ‘Go, my men, and strike this man in the morning with a hundred spears!’ The king’s men did as they were told. Then at midday the king would say, ‘My men, how is that man?’ ‘He’s still alive, Your Majesty.’ The king would say, ‘Go, my men, and strike this man in the midday with a hundred spears!’ The king’s men did as they were told. Then late in the afternoon the king would say, ‘My men, how is that man?’ ‘He’s still alive, Your Majesty.’ The king would say, ‘Go, my men, and strike this man in the late afternoon with a hundred spears!’ The king’s men did as they were told.

What do you think, mendicants? Would that man experience pain and distress from being struck with three hundred spears?”

“Sir, that man would experience pain and distress from being struck with one spear, let alone three hundred spears!”

Then the Buddha, picking up a stone the size of his palm, addressed the mendicants, “What do you think, mendicants? Which is bigger: the stone the size of my palm that I’ve picked up, or the Himalayas, the king of mountains?”

“Sir, the stone you’ve picked up is tiny. Compared to the Himalayas, it doesn’t even count, it’s not even a fraction, there’s no comparison.”

“In the same way, compared to the suffering in hell, the pain and distress experienced by that man due to being struck with three hundred spears doesn’t even count, it’s not even a fraction, there’s no comparison.

https://suttacentral.net/mn129/en/sujato

Lately I have been feeling beaten down and sorry for myself. It can be hard to live with someone who constantly berates and criticized and who shows no love or affection. I’m not angry with her, but I do wonder how it could be possible to be unceasingly resentful of someone. It seems incredibly unhealthy and patently absurd.

Regardless, I had the thought that this suffering is nothing compared to what beings suffer in the states of woe. In terms of the length of time and the severity of the suffering, my present human condition can’t be compared with the dukkha of the animal or hell realms. No, that’s not always encouraging but it is true and understanding reality is our only hope for escape.


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